3 min read

Vitas Naudziunas, PT

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How To Maintain Good Posture While Driving

 

We look at the top three reasons why you shouldn’t lean while driving, and the three things you can do to ensure you maintain good posture in the car.

Many of us spend a decent part of our life driving or commuting to work. The average one-way commute is 25 minutes in North America – that’s a minimum of an hour of your day spent driving. That is enough to develop poor posture and movements habits, especially right at the start of your day. Lower back pain and prolonged driving seem to go hand-in-hand, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Leaning over the one side while driving will eventually become uncomfortable on your lower back.

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The lean can stay with you all day

1. This position creates an “S” shaped curve in your spine. After sleeping, your discs have rehydrated and decompressed. Putting yourself in this position creates uneven load through the discs for a prolonged amount of time, creating uneven pressure through the discs of the low back. It also promotes having the head forward which can strain the neck and cause adaptive changes in the low back as further compensation.

2. Muscles adapt to chronic positions by adaptively lengthening or shortening. So after your 30-minute drive in that particular position, the body will naturally maintain some of that “S” curve once you are back upright or by the time you reach your desk.

3. This adaptation can also affect your movements patterns as the muscle progressively adapts to that position over time, especially if you go to work and spend your day sitting. Thus, you may have poor alignment while moving and there is a good chance you’ll even notice it because your body has already adapted to that position. That alignment may not cause issues initially but when it does it will take just as much time to undo it.

The following are ways you can fix your posture while driving.

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Sit the right way

Get in your vehicle and find a seat position where you can sit upright on the chair (raise the chair back if you have to) and comfortably have your hands on the wheel with a relaxed, mild bend in the elbows.

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Adjust your vantage points

Once in this position, alter your mirrors so that they will be most effective when sitting in this stance. Seated like this will be a constant reminder of optimal position while driving.

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Switch Your Sitting Position

For those that already have been in these postures for a long time, spend 5-10 minutes a day sitting in the opposite position for a few weeks just to help even out these muscle imbalances. You will notice that if you tend to lean right while driving, then leaning to your left will feel awkward. This reaction is your brain and body telling you that it’s a position you are not used to.

3 min read

Rebecca Armstrong

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Five Commute Exercises To Do For Neck Pain and Lower Back Pain

Typical activities while commuting, like staring at your phone or reading, also increases neck tension.

Your commute, plus sitting at work, is a lot of time that your lower back is inactive; therefore, causing lower back pain. “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. While we may not be able to do anything about the commutes (aside from relocating closer to our workplaces), we can optimize our time commuting to ensure your body won’t feel the after effects of logging countless hours on the bus or train.

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Get on/off your stop earlier

Depending on what your job is, you may already be spending most of your day sitting at a desk. Why not change up your routine and get on or off at a farther stop. Walking a few extra blocks will help activate your glutes which can contribute to decreasing lower back pain. Walking will also allow you to spend a bit more time each day in an extension position which will counteract all the hours spent in flexion at work. It’s also an excellent opportunity to destress from the day and reflect on things you may need to get done at home.

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Practice your balance while riding public transit

This one is almost forced some days when the bus, streetcars or subways are full to the brim and there are no handrails to hold. But granted you are relatively stable as is (i.e. no severe balance issues), use this time to practice your balance by standing with no handrail support. The movement of the vehicle will provide external perturbation which will challenge your proprioception. Safety tip: it’s recommended to do this near a handrail in the event a significant bump, or sharp turn unexpectedly happens.

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Use the handrails for stretching

As mentioned, many of us spend a significant portion of our days in a flexed forward posture. This positioning has many adverse effects on our bodies,neck pain being a main culprit. Why not use your commutes to help you stretch out these tight structures? Use the handrails to get in a pec stretch or use two and stretch out those hip flexors. Anyone staring is just jealous they never thought of it.

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If you MUST sit, actively sit
Unless your commute is more than an hour, do your best to stand for most of it. This is especially true for those of us who will be sitting the rest of the day. However, if you need to sit, make sure to sit actively. When sitting, don’t slouch, don’t sit at the front of the seat and lean back and don’t lean excessively to the side. Instead, sit back in your seat, use the backrest for lumbar spine support and engage your core. For added benefit, perform seated cat/camels to keep your spine moving.

 

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Read or listen to podcasts while avoiding forward head posture

Using the dreaded commute for your personal gain can actually cause you to enjoy your time spent on public transit. However, with the crowded buses, streetcars, and subways, taking out your laptop may not be feasible. Try downloading some motivational podcasts or books that will help you to prepare for your day or week.

When reading, make sure to keep your posture in mind. Keep your elbows close to your sides and use them to prop your book up to eye level to avoid excessive neck flexion and forward head posture. When you’re finished, do a quick stretch for the front of your neck by extending, rotating and side bending until you feel a gentle stretch. Follow up with some chin tucks and you’ll be ready to start or finish your day right.

2 min read

Gracia Florendo

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Your Knee Pain, Lower Back and Hip Pain is Because of Your Feet

Improper foot care plays a vital role in the causes of knee pain, reasons for lower back pain, and overall hip pain. Our feet and its arches are the foundations that our entire body relies on to keep us moving and standing.


Our feet are designed to provide us with flexibility, absorb shock, distribute the weight of the body, and help us adapt to our environment when walking, running, climbing, etc. They allow us to move where we want to go, balance us when we stand – yet, we neglect the necessity for proper foot care!

Poorly fitted shoes, old worn out shoes, and jobs that require more time seated than standing are the culprit of foot problems. As a result, it may be the initiating factor to what causes hip problems, lower back pain, and knee pain.

Like any part of the body, our feet needs exercise too.

Strong foot muscles help hold the bones of the feet and ankles in alignment and assist in maintaining our arches. If the muscles aren’t working properly to keep this alignment, there’s a pretty good chance that nothing stacked above is aligned correctly either.

Here are two very simple exercises you can do on a daily to get your feet healthy and working for you:

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  1. Place a towel flat on the floor and use your foot to bring the towel towards you. elias
  2. Drop pens, pencils, marbles or whatever you have at home and pick them up using your foot and toes and place them in a bucket.

A lot of shoes and foot orthotics are now designed to do the work. While the extra support can be a benefit and a saving grace from pain, we may be relying on them too much and forgetting that we already have the proper equipment.

Since you already have your feet, train them and use them. They are the best pair of shoes you’ll ever have! Relying on orthotics and shoes is like putting on a strap-on. Why use something when you’ve already got the goods?